Finland, 29 min
Based on conversations recorded in Seoul with former citizens of North Korea, accompanied by shots taken in the country and on the Chinese border and the demilitarised zone, Maija Blåfield (On Destruction and Preservation, VdR 2018) evokes the way in which North Koreans have fantasised about the external world by secretly watching forbidden western fictional films.
“When we watched these video cassettes at home on a colour TV, we saw things whose existence we had never before imagined”, answers one of the former citizens of North Korea interviewed in The Fantastic. He is evoking films watched illegally, as North Korea is completely closed. According to an interviewee, only 1% of inhabitants have access to the exterior of the country and the echoes that reach them from the world are mainly through western fictional films that are smuggled in via China, on video cassette from the 1990s onwards, then on USB sticks. In a well orchestrated routine, the North Koreans experiment with new things, the elsewhere, the other… However, without points of reference and without knowledge of what this other reality might be, the films seen plunge them into the incertitude provoked by this unknown world. To what extent do these fictional films reflect ”reality”? In order to evoke this confrontation between images and fantasies of the outside world, Maija Blåfield films in North Korea and on the Chinese border and the South Korean demilitarised zone, landscapes that are transformed by video and digital filter effects to let the fantastic appear.